Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to the US...and to blogging

Yeah, I fell off the bandwagon again. But this time I have an excuse - I spent almost a month in London working with the UK office of Operation Smile! I left for London on April 22 with the intention of only be there for 10 days, but I got extended twice and ended up staying for almost 4 weeks. It was an absolutely amazing experience to have - to feel almost like I was living and working there rather than just visiting.

The reason I went over was due to the launch of a Direct Response campaign that incorporated both 60-second TV spots and newspaper ads. Being a very small office (2 full-time employees and a few part-timers), they really didn't have a database specialist or a plan for how to track the (hopeful) influx of donations that the campaign would bring in. In the past they've relied mainly on special events to raise money, so this was a brand new endeavour. Enter me. I went over to analyze their current database solution (a nightmare), help get the call centre set up to sent us data, and try to come up with some procedures for entering and acknowledging the gifts in a timely manner.

The tiny little London office!

It certainly wasn't easy, but I really enjoyed the challenge. It was refreshing to do something different for once; it's not always easy to sit at a desk and do the same thing day in and day out. It was something that I really needed. It brought a new perspective to my job, and actually helped my self-confidence quite a bit because I was able to go in and really make a difference in a pretty short period of time. And I can't say enough about the folks who work in the office. They're incredibly dedicated, but also tons of fun. I feel like I made some very good new friends.

Luckily for me, Rob was able to come visit me while I was there...not just once, but twice! He came for two long weekends. He's absolutely nuts, but I love him for it! The first time he came we stayed in London for the weekend and did the typical touristy stuff...and shopped...a lot. The second time he came, we took a train to Cardiff and spent the weekend there. By then it was actually nice to get out of London and see another part of the UK. Neither of us had ever been to Wales before, so it was a great time.

All in all, it was one of the best experiences that has ever happened to me. I feel silly admitting this, but I actually started to cry on the plane home because I wasn't ready to leave London yet! It just confirms what I already knew - I definitely have to live overseas at some point! And soon...I'm not getting any younger!

If you want to see more pictures, I have two albums on my Facebook page (you don't have to be a member to see the pics):

If you're curious about the UK Foundation of Operation Smile, here is a link to their website:

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